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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Antigoddess

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, September 9, 2013

Review: Antigoddess

Goddess War, Book 1

Author: Kendare Blake
Pages: 333
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Read: September 5
Source: Finished copy from publisher

Description from Goodreads:
The Goddess War begins in Antigoddess, the first installment of the new series by acclaimed author of Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake.

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

First Sentence: "The feathers were starting to be a nuisance."

I'm one of the few people who never got around to reading Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood, though I do have a copy and will read it...someday. Initially, it wasn't really on my radar, because horror isn't something I seek out, but the reviews convinced me. Antigoddess, however, was a topic that called my name and I was hopeless to resist that call, much like Odysseus and the sirens. Thankfully, Kendare Blake lived up to all the hype, and Antigoddess was a non-stop horrorshow and thrill ride.

Antigoddess is one of those books where the reader basically has no idea what is happening at any point. To predict the outcome, you'd basically need to be a prophetess like Cassandra. Sometimes, I hate this in books, especially in mysteries, but with Antigoddess it works. That feeling of being out of your element and out of control really plays into the mythology, the fact that these gods, even diminished are really beyond our ken. Though I don't mind predictable formulas (like romances and their inevitable HEAs), Antigodess was a refreshing change, because I had zero clue how it would end at any point, and have even less idea what will go down in book two.

I am all about Greek mythology, and, while Blake's interpretation might not exactly be canon, it's mindblowingly cool and creepy. So the Greek gods have basically continued existing and doing their things, blending in with humans or running around in non-populated places, whatever they want. But then, dun dun dun, they began to die. Obviously, they're not super thrilled about this because 1) they're supposed to be immortal and 2) they're dying in really nasty ways. Like Athena getting slowly smothered to death by owl feathers growing inside of her body. Anyway, Athena and Hermes are trying to figure out a way to stop dying, and so are some other gods (most importantly Hera and Poseidon) and they're all also at war. There are also so humans involved and it's all just nuts in the most awesome sort of way.

What really makes me squee about Blake's world building is how empowering it is for women. Yes, there were always female gods, and some of them are quite powerful, but, in Greek mythology, the dude's are still really running the show. In Antigoddess, though several male gods are present, it's the women who are running the show, specifically Athena and Hera. Hermes defers to Athena, for example, and Poseidon to Hera. In the original mythology, Hera is powerful, but mostly just gets to be cuckolded over and over, without any ability to prevent Zeus from sleeping around and then punishing the girl, who, often, Zeus even raped. Hera still may not come out of this smelling like roses, but at least she's imbued with agency. Within the human characters too, Cassandra and Andie are exceptionally strong. Blake writes female characters who kick serious ass and have brains to back that up.

Though I didn't emotionally bond with the characters, they're all fascinating and compelling, so that even the comparatively slow beginning didn't drag for me in the slightest. Also, good news for those who are sick of romance dominating plot, that is not the case here. There are some ships that you can board, but they take up relatively little page time. Also, for the record, I am definitely on a couple of those ships, and got to watch the one I wasn't on sink. Mwahahaha. *high fives Kendare*

The other thing I really want to note is how well Kendare writes. I'm not a visual reader, but Blake has a way of making things very visceral, and putting definite images in my head. Very few writers can do this for me, and I'm always so impressed when it happens. Her descriptions of the feathers seeding Athena's body especially will be haunting me for a while.

Kendare Blake's Antigoddess is a dark, creative roller coaster ride of a read. For readers who enjoy action-packed books or unique mythological retellings, particularly with a feminist bent, Antigoddess is a must.

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote: "'Everything born must die,' she repeated. 'But I sprang fully formed from our father's head. So that doesn't exactly count, now does it?'"

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Blogger Kayla Beck said...

Okay, you absolutely must read Anna Dressed in Blood. It is all the Sadie Hawkins forever now. Seriously, do it. I enjoyed Antigoddess, too, by the way, but I rated it lower because Anna Dressed in Blood was just so fucking mind-blowing. Also, Apollo annoyed me. I didn't realize that until the end.

Anywho, read Anna! I'll buy you a second copy if that's what it takes! :-P

September 9, 2013 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

MUST I? I know it's in there.

Haha, interesting. Apollo was meant to be a little annoying, yeah? All golden boy and whatever?

I don't think a second copy will help. :-p

September 9, 2013 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

This sounds really cool!! I love Greek Mythology, and I love it when authors change it up a bit to keep things unique. I really loved Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares, so I have really been looking forward to this. I am definitely a fan of her writing. I'm glad that you liked this one!! I am really excited to read it now!!

September 9, 2013 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Alessandra said...

I started out Anna Dressed In Blood, but haven't finsihed it yet. I'm not sure why.
This comes out tomorrow? Me wants.

September 9, 2013 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Addicted2Heroines said...

I'm one of the few who wasn't crazy about Anna Dressed in Blood, but Antigoddess sounds like a story I'd love. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Cat @ Addicted 2 Heroines

September 9, 2013 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, it's a really strange twist on it, but I really like it and can't wait to see what she does next!

September 9, 2013 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Sure does. I'm not running much ahead at the moment. X_X

September 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hmmm, we'll see how it goes for me. I'm not much for horror just for its own sake, so that will really depend.

September 9, 2013 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Alexia Boesen said...

Yes, so glad you enjoyed this one. I didn't know much about this one before your review, only that it looked really good based off the synopsis. I haven't read Anna Dressed in Black yet but it's on my TBR. Now I need to make sure that Antigoddess is also on my list.

September 9, 2013 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

I can't believe this one already comes out this week! I may have to pick it up and start it today because it sounds like a book that I will love. I am always down for a good horror show.

You should really read Anna Dressed In Blood, if only because I am curious to see how you feel. I often think back on my rating of that one and wonder if I was just wrapped up in all the hype because it's actually pretty darn ridiculous.

September 9, 2013 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

Lalalalala I didn't read a word of your review, I just wanted to see the rating so I know whether to be excited when it arrives. I think I'm gonan be ok ;)

September 9, 2013 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh yeah, I did not read the synopsis, so I don't know how it compares. Too lazy to scroll up. Anyway, I thought it was crazy but in an awesome way.

September 9, 2013 at 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been so darn excited for this one due to the greek mythology and good to know that it turned out good for you! I'm with you in the 'yet to have read Anna' camp but well, I'll get to it soon I guess. Antigoddess on the other hand, is just so much more compelling for me because I love Greek mythology and somehow there are so few decent ones in the YA world.

That plus compelling characters and kickass females? Ahhh, can't wait to get a copy of my own!


September 9, 2013 at 2:53 PM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Oooooh, horror, Greek mythology, unpredictability and kick-ass females who are also smart!? This book has EVERYTHING I love in it! Plus cool twists on traditional myths is another thing I've really come to appreciate. It's so hard to be original and I've been disappointed with the last few mythological adaptations that I've read, so I can't wait to give this one a go!

I seriously don't even know what to say because I'm so excited. My mouse can't click 'Buy It' fast enough!

September 9, 2013 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Yay! So glad this one was good! I've been wanting to read it since it was announced! I didn't love ANNA because it creeped me out, but her writing was great, so I'm happy to hear it's good here too. :)

September 9, 2013 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

MUST! Ask anybody. I refused to jump on the revved up hypewagon when it came out, but then I finally read it. *sigh* So good. But then again, I'm a horror fan.

Apollo was a hover-douche who did things for HER OWN GOOD. Nope. I don't care.


September 9, 2013 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

Hmm, I only had a mild interest in this book before, since I only found her Anna series to be okay. But I think you've convinced me that I may actually want to read it...kind of badly!

September 9, 2013 at 8:34 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Antigoddess sounds so cool! I love that the female characters are all strong and I do appreciate creative uses of Greek mythology so I'm totally making sure I get around to reading this. Great review!

-P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

September 9, 2013 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger MJ said...

I'm really looking forward to this one. I've avoided Anna too, mainly because horror really isn't my thing either. Though I might pick it up depending on how this one goes. Informative review as always.

September 10, 2013 at 1:22 AM  
Blogger Hmm said...

Yess. I'm so glad this is good! You had me at "Athena getting slowly smothered to death by owl feathers growing inside of her body." That sounds freaking AWESOME, unless you're Athena of course. (I never understood why Paris didn't give Athena the Golden apple. Silly little boy.) Teehee, I'm so excited to read this. I've been side-eyeing my copy for two weeks now, because if it disappoints, it will break me. Not just my heart, ME.

September 10, 2013 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger Lili said...

I wholeheartedly agree with everything. I gave it 4 stars too for pretty much the same reason. The atmosphere she created was just wow. I couldn't look away, you know? I wanted to know what would happen next because it was so twisted.

I loved the mythology as well and though it is horrifying, I love that there wasn't much direct horror in it. I wasn't so disgusted that I wouldn't be able to continue, I didn't lose sleep over this book. Instead, I just enjoyed it greatly.

I also had a lot of trouble bonding with the characters, specifically Cassandra's friends! Like, what are you doing?! They believed everything they were told instead of doing the logical thing of running into the hills screaming because everything was so absurd and out of the ordinary. Whatever, I understand that it's essential to the plot for the book to continue and blah blah blah

I haven't read ANNA either, nor do I plan on it because I hate horror, but this book was great for me!

Broke your streak of requesting clunkers, eh? ;)

I miss commenting on your blog :( It's like I don't have time to anymore.

September 10, 2013 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh man, I cannot wait to be more ahead. I can believe it comes out today because PANICKING to read everything.

Hmmmm, well, I'll get to it someday, and we shall see!

September 10, 2013 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Christina said...


And yeah, I think you'll like this one, Kat. :)

September 10, 2013 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I'm not sure how soon I'll get to it, but I'm crossing my fingers. Who knows how that will go, since the premise wasn't as interesting to me, but sometimes those surprise!

The lady power is freaking awesome.

September 10, 2013 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Blake's doing something different than usual with them, and it makes a difference. Rather than retelling, she's playing off what they might do now, which has been done too, but not quite like this!

September 10, 2013 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Don't know if this one will creep you out or not, since I've not read Anna. Also, I'm not easy to creep out in books. :-p

September 10, 2013 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oooh, well, I hope I didn't steer you wrong. I thought it was crazy cool, though!

September 10, 2013 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger meg said...

YAY! I bought this based on how much I liked Anna Dressed In Blood and I'm super excited to read it. Glad you liked it!

September 11, 2013 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Lyn Kaye said...

I DNFed this one.....I'll wander back to my isle of unpopular opinions and throw coconuts at all of you book lovers!
I might pick it back up - I think I wasn't ready for this one yet.

September 11, 2013 at 11:57 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Anna Dressed in Blood was an interesting read for me, but not a favorite or anything. I have higher hopes for Antigoddess, though. I love Greek mythology. And I love it when stories give more traditional tales a new slant. Hopefully the ways that this story isn't always canon (besides, you know the obvious taking place in modern times) won't bother me too much. I do think that there are many powerful women to be found in Greek myths, but the myths themselves were written and told by men in a patriarchal society. So it will be nice to see them told from a new light for sure. The horror that ADIB had was the kind that I could endure, so I'm hoping the same is true here. Either way, I'm still looking forward to this book.

September 12, 2013 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I think I might be opposite to you because I hated that feeling of having no idea what is going on at any point. I can deal when things come together at the end but I never felt like it reached that point for me. I'm glad to have your musings on this to help me continue processing my feelings about this book.

September 15, 2013 at 7:16 PM  

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